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Realizing the Space Advantage E-mail
Written by WGM Raluca Sgîrcea, IM Renier Castellanos   
Friday, 23 December 2016 01:13

space advantageOne of the most important elements of the positional struggle in a chess game is the element of “space”. Now, between amateurs and club players this aspect is often underrated or misjudged. In this article we will shed some light in the application of this concept, so let’s start first by some key definitions.

  • What is the space advantage? A question with a simple answer. “You have a space advantage when you control more squares (relevant squares!) than your opponent”. This basically summarizes it all, but there are other elements linked with the space factor that you should know as well.
  • What are the benefits of having a space advantage? Besides controlling more squares than your opponent and because of this having more room in which you can strengthen your own position by means of slow maneuvering, the main benefit is the facility to move pieces from one flank to the other and exert pressure on both wings. The cramped side can’t always defend simultaneously both flanks and ends up cracking.
  • How to maintain the space advantage, is it something permanent or can it vanish into nothing? In general lines the space advantage has a lasting nature and it does not easily disappear. However, the impact of your space advantage can be diminished if you allow the trade of minor pieces. As a rule of thumb the side with more space should avoid trading minor pieces. This is very logical and you can do a real life analogy, for example: if there is only one car and there are 6 people traveling in that car then they’ll be cramped and without movement. The car would represent the board and people would be the pieces, so by avoiding the trades you’re keeping your opponent’s car a very uncomfortable tripJ

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Realizing the advantage:

We recently learned that the rule of “avoid trading pieces” does not apply when it comes to trading heavy pieces (queens + rooks). Actually, it may as well be that trading the rooks and the queens off the board makes it considerably easier for the side with more space to realize his positional plus. This is because the defensive side loses power and is deprived of counter-play, allowing the enemy to maneuver free with his king and minor pieces left. This concept was well explained by Boris Gelfand in one of his recently published books.

Without further talk, let’s see now some examples where we can appreciate the method exposed above.

space 1

Stahlberg – Troianescu
Budapest 1952

In the game above white correctly provoked a massive simplification that left black in a very difficult endgame. We analyze this position here:


space 2

Polugaevsky – Kavalek
Luzern 1982

We have taken the position right after the opening when black has played the move 11…c5. The subsequent moves are quite interesting and relevant – first, the definition of the center and pawn structure, later the plan and piece deployment by white, finally the endgame. See the details here:


space 3

Karpov, A – Diez del Corral, J
Montilla 1976

Our last example is from a game played by one of the greatest players of all times, the former World Champion Anatoly Karpov. Again, we can see a typical King’s Indian structure in which it seems that black is comfortable. What is most impressive is the clarity Karpov had in his chosen plan: to trade all the heavy pieces and advance his queenside. See the details of this game here, enjoy!

It seems that this method of realizing a spatial advantage is quite effective. It was a bit unknown to us, but not anymore. We hope you enjoyed these examples and may this be the start of a deeper investigation for more. Thank you for reading and feel free to leave your comments!

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  • tactics
  • positional play
  • attacking skills
  • endgame technique
  • classical games analysis
  • psychological preparation
  • and much more

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Last Updated on Friday, 23 December 2016 12:21

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